Iron Man (2020-) #2 by Christopher Cantwell

Iron Man (2020-) #2Iron Man (2020-) #2 by Christopher Cantwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was good, though not as good as #1.

I’m really enjoying the dynamic between Patsy and Tony, they make good foils for each other. Tony trying to go out in a blaze of glory so that people will remember him fondly and not as the raging asshole he really is is very Tony.

I would have liked the mystery of who was plotting in the background to have lasted longer than a single issue, but what you gonna do, eh?

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X-Men (2019-) #13 by Jonathan Hickman

X-Men (2019-) #13X-Men (2019-) #13 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When first introduced, Apocalypse was a mysterious character who obviously had a long and detailed history. Previous attempts to fill in that backstory have only served to make the character less interesting. What Hickman is doing here is weaving a tale of the secret history of Apocalypse, and, quite wonderfully, it’s adding to the mystery and wonder of Apocalypse and making him…interesting. Apocalypse has always been a bit of a one note villain, with his survival of the fittest mantra. But here, at last, he’s being given motivation for that mantra. A reason for testing mutants so that only the fittest survive, beyond just, “He thinks it’s a good idea.”

Far from being simply filler, this issue answers questions…or, rather, confirms our suspicions, while posing some more. We learn that Annihilation is very much just the helmet, which confirms that the person wearing that helmet is likely to be significant, and the best candidate for the wearer is Genesis, Apocalypse’s supposedly dead wife. But, equally, it could be Isca, Genesis’ sister and the sister-in-law of Apocalypse, who betrayed them all. This mystery feels significant, and the answer feels like it will be important…both for Apocalypse and the future of Krakoa.

It’s also important to remember that this is Apocalypse’s account of events. We are seeing and hearing everything from his point of view, through his recollections. It’s entirely possible, and extremely likely, that he’s an unreliable narrator. I anticipate us seeing these events from genesis’ point of view at some point, and for that to quite revelatory.

The art, by Mahmud Asrar, is superb, which is what we’ve come to expect from the whole X-line right now. The creators have been called on to conjure myriad new character designs and each one of them is interesting and unique. Part of me hopes that we see them return after this event is over, but part of me thinks that will ultimately dilute their impact.

Anyway, this is great stuff, and next week we hit the official half way point in this event, with X Of Swords: Stasis…and I can’t wait!

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Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard

Excalibur (2019-) #13Excalibur (2019-) #13 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a twist at the end of this which basically calls all of the characters’ interactions throughout this issue into question. How much was genuine and how much was just an act? We will, perhaps, never know.

What I do know is that seeing the Braddock twins get one over on her Whyness, the Omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnye, is deeply satisfying. It also feels good seeing Brian finally get over himself, come to terms with the fact that he’s no longer Captain Britain, and embrace a new role…Captain Avalon.

But let’s go back a step and address an issue others seem to have a problem with: Saturnyne’s powers. Throughout this event the Omniversal Majestrix has displayed certain powers that, supposedly, she has not had before. As far as I can tell, there are three possible explanations for this:

1) Satrunyne has always been a fairly mysterious being. It’s entirely possible that she’s always possessed these powers and abilities but we’ve simply never seen her using them before.

2) The powers are derived from the Starlight Citadel. You have to consider: What’s different about Saturnyne compared to her previous appearances? Well, she now controls the Starlight Citadel and that may well have bestowed certain powers upon her.

3) There is a story yet to be told regarding how Saturnyne came to be in possession of these powers.

What’s not likely is that Tini Howard is unaware that Saturnyne hasn’t previously displayed any powers and has made a huge error.

(Anyway, that’s enough of me responding to the criticisms of other reviewers).

Literally my only complaint here is that Brian’s costume inside the book is not the one he’s wearing on the cover, because the one he’s wearing on the cover is a lot better. But, talking of the art, RB Silva’s work here is sublime, but mention should also be made of the colourist, Nolan Woodard, who really brings the Starlight Citadel to life, in all its glowing, ethereal beauty.

X Of Swords continues to be one of the best crossover events I’ve ever read. Long may it continue (or, you know, at least for another thirteen parts..).

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Outlawed (2020) #1 by Eve L. Ewing

Outlawed (2020) #1Outlawed (2020) #1 by Eve L. Ewing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I really need to check out the rest of Outlawed but looking at eBay I’m not sure that’s going to happen as Outlawed #1 is selling for silly money (thanks, coronavirus), but maybe I’ll get lucky.” That’s what I said at the end of my review of Champions #1. So, did I get lucky? Well…sort of…I found someone selling the regular cover and the Tony Daniel wraparound variant cover on eBay in one lot, and it wasn’t too much..considering…

Anyway, what did I think of the book? I liked it, a lot, and now I have context for what was going on in Champions #1. Or…do I? Because my one complaint is that it really wasn’t clear what happened with Viv Vision, maybe that was deliberate. After all, the reason that everything went south so quickly is because so much was happening at once, the team weren’t properly communicating and, well, everyone got confused.

Also, while Jacinto’s art is good, it’s perhaps a tad too stylised at times for my taste…but that didn’t really spoil my enjoyment of the book.

Mostly, these are characters I like, and I just enjoy seeing them interact with each other and doing stuff. Although watching them get hurt isn’t great…

This is also clearly set up for the rest of the Outlawed event, which is fair enough. I’ll be reading Champions and Power Pack, so it’s good to have read this for context.

Also, Viv is very obviously not dead. Which is good.

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Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 by Kieron Gillen

Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #1 by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Thought For The Day: Why are you thinking?”

Like most British men with a healthy interest in both sci-fi and gaming, I had a Warhammer 40k phase. However, it was so long ago that the rules I had were first edition, and my Space Marine army all had pointy noses and came in a back of thirty for £10. For anyone familiar with the cost of Space Marines now that will no doubt be shocking.

The world building done by Games Workshop, even back then, was outstanding, and I spent many hours poring over the cutaway diagram of an Ultramarines monastery in the rulebook. I never got around to reading any of the books, and getting back into collecting the miniatures isn’t financially viable, but when Marvel announced this series, written by Kieron Gillen, I couldn’t resist.

And I am not disappointed.

This is excellent stuff. Of course, much of this issue is set up, introducing those who are unlikely to be familiar with the world of 40k to the status quo in the galaxy, but it’s done exceptionally well. Gillen draws you in to the story of Marneus and by the end I was hooked. The cliffhanger at the end is perfect, leaving you needing to know what happens next.

The art is fantastic, and perfect for Warhammer 40k. I was worried that Space Marines wouldn’t transfer well to comics, but Jacen Burrows pulls it off perfectly.

This is great stuff and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Avengers (2018-) #37 by Jason Aaron

Avengers (2018-) #37Avengers (2018-) #37 by Jason Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Age of Konshu storyline comes to a mostly satisfying conclusion.

Although, of course, given the fact that Konshu took over the world in a bid to stop Mephisto, and the Avengers have now stopped Konshu…what about Mephisto?

Although that’s essentially the question that’s asked at the end of the book, and the answer seems to be: Maybe the Phoenix can stop Mephisto?!

I guess we’ll find out in the comic Phoenix storyline…?

It’d be nice to know what Mephisto’s actually up to.

Still, this comic was great, and I enjoyed the part where Moon Knight ultimately rejected the Phoenix, even though it got a bit meta with his, “This isn’t the saga of Dark Moon Knight” line.

The art is, of course, cracking.

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Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #6 by Greg Pak

Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #6Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-) #6 by Greg Pak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

so far Pak has brilliantly linked the Prequels with a Vader comic set during the original trilogy, between Empire and Jedi. Now he’s linking to the Sequel trilogy, which is likely to prove controversial with some fans, but is providing much needed connective tissue to the Saga as a whole.

Returning from his quest to find out the truth of what happened to Padme, Vader is now on the receiving end of some harsh punishment from Palpatine. This essentially takes the form of him reliving his mutilation and abandonment on Mustafar. Which seems harsh, but, you know…Palpatine’s gonna Palpatine.

And then we have that last page reveal and…well…I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

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Cable #5 by Gerry Duggan

Cable #5Cable #5 by Gerry Duggan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s a Summers family outing as Scott, Jean and Nate hang out on the abandoned SWORD space station and battle what appears to be some sort of otherworldly virus in the form of people in black rubber suits.

There’s some lovely dialogue here, as we get to see Scott and Jean alone(ish) together for the first time in a while, and also Scott and Nate get some nice bonding scenes in which Scott gets to be the overprotective dad.

And…there’s not a whole lot more, really. It’s unclear whether what’s going on with SWORD is actually relevant to X of Swords beyond, you know, the sword thing…or if their is essentially set up for the upcoming Sword series. There’s also some telepathic scheming going on between Scott, Jean and Magik, which is definitely relevant to X of Swords, and I’m sure we’ll find out exactly what they’re planning a little further down the line.

The art is, of course, stunning, because it’s Phil Noto and Phil Noto’s artwork is always stunning.

Overall a pretty great comic.

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New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson

New Mutants #13New Mutants #13 by Ed Brisson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ed Brisson delivers his best issue of New Mutants yet…and it’s his last. Vita Ayala takes over in two months, as the book takes a break next month. Should we read anything into the fact that Warlock is on the cover to #14 but Doug isn’t? This issue certainly seems to be foreshadowing his impending death…but that alone makes me doubt that Doug’s going to die. He might be…changed…though. We shall see.

Anyway, this issue is great, and while Brisson certainly writes it well, the real stand out aspect is the art, by Rob Reis, which is simply stunning, and certainly reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on the first run of New Mutants. Magik and Doug spar as she helps train him for the upcoming tournament, and both he and she are concerned that Doug will die. Krakoa and Exodus are also concerned about the same thing, with Exodus proposing they kill Doug now and resurrect him after the tournament and Krakoa suggesting that it hides Doug. But Doug points out that this could quite possibly lead to another mutant dying in his place and he couldn’t live with that. Because Doug is a good person.

Brisson and Reis ably convey Doug’s fear and uncertainty, coupled with his determination to do the right thing. Also, Illyana’s protectiveness of Doug, after all, she’s lost him before. In fact, being dead has been what Doug has been best known for for most of his existence in the Marvel universe…which is why I doubt that he’s going to die again now.

Only time will tell, but, you know…I really don’t want Doug to die.

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Hellions #5 by Zeb Wells

Hellions #5Hellions #5 by Zeb Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you didn’t enjoy this issue then maybe you just don’t like fun. Be sure to remove any stick like objects from your posterior before reading.

Because this is FUNNY. And that, apparently, offends some people. Mr Sinister’s progression over the last few years from fairly boring, one note, Summers obsessed villain…to…well…what we have here. Flamboyant. Camp. Vain. And almost certainly using all of that as a smokescreen to hide his true villainous intent…is something that was started by Gillen, progressed by Hickman and perfect, here, by Zeb Wells.

Also, Empath is the worst and I still love him.

As for plot, the Hellions have to infiltrate Otherworld in a bid to steal the swords of their enemies before the tournament even begins, and to do so Sinister has to swap his cape for a horse so that Jamie Braddock will let them in. And it’s every bit as ridiculous as that sounds.

Well, it might be Sinister, or it might be a clone that he’s secretly created…and he might also be a clone that he’s secretly created. The real Sinister might not even be on Krakoa for all we know.

Anyway, the writing in here is great. It’s Zeb Wells at his wittiest. And the art is simply superb.

I love this, and you should too…unless you’re a miserable git who hates everything new and thinks you know better because you’ve been reading X-Men for a million years.

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